|Ramblings and Random Thoughts about the Parable of the Sower|
|Ramblings - The Parable of the Sower
Some thoughts I recently had about the Parable of the Sower. Jesus taught this parable in Mark 4:3-8 and Matthew 13:3-9. What if the soil in the parable represents the local church today, the individual body of believers that meets together. What if the plant from the seed represents the members, the people, in that local church. We would ask ourselves what kind of soil is each church. Is it the hard soil by the road, the rocky soil, maybe the soil among the briars and weeds? Or is that church the fertile soil that brings forth mature followers of Jesus? Whether you are the pastor, other staff member or a member of that church, what kind of soil is your church? How are the people growing in your church? Our goal is to become more like Jesus. Are the people in your church spiritually healthy, maturing and becoming more like Jesus? That is a big question. What do you see in the folks in your church? What do you see in your own life and attitudes? Becoming more like Jesus or just attending or busy in church?
Some of the plants came up beside the road on the hard ground and they never took root. Some people are like that today. They get saved, but they never grow at all. After they joined the church they attended very little. Maybe they actually found it boring. They never took root. The soil of that church was hard and maybe even legalistic. There were a lot of rules and their lives just didnít need more rules. Their lives needed relief not rules.
Some other plants were in the rocky ground. They had shallow roots. They never spent any quality time in Godís word or formed a real relationship with him. They knew about him, but never knew him. They may have respected or even feared him but were never guided by the church to grow into the full manhood of the likeness of Christ. They may have been told often what they need to do, but were offered little personal help as to how to do it. Nor were they offered help on how to deal with their everyday lives and the problems that they face, which did not go away when they were saved and joined a church. The soil of the church they were in had few nutrients to offer them and life giving water was not there.
Some of the other plants came up and were doing fine. But they were among the thorns and weeds. Maybe their priorities never changed and the church was not first place in their lives. Many leaders want the church to be first place in the lives of their members. What really matters is that Jesus is first place in their lives. You can be very busy at church. Some churches have three or four services each Sunday members are encouraged or expected to attend: morning Bible study, morning worship, evening Bible study, evening worship service or other duties. Then there may be a couple of things during the week you need to participate in at church. The heart of this busyness is good but I just think sometimes it may be misdirected. We are to honor the Sabbath day. That is right there with the other nine commandments. In Mark 2:27 Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man and not man made for the Sabbath. In other words, it is a day of rest. You donít have a rest day if you worked six days a week and spend all day at church and are worn out when Sunday night gets here. You havenít honored the Sabbath, have you? We honor a Sabbath for ourselves and not because of some rule. The Sabbath is a principal not a specific day. Maybe that is the thorns that choke some people out. Maybe it is other stuff. Too busy a lifestyle. No time for church. No time for God. Legalism. The leaders of some churches are never able to lead those under them into a real relationship with Jesus. They may appear to believe the members can get all they need at church, although they really know better. In truth, the leaders may not know exactly how to lead the members to a personal and daily relationship with the Lord. The soil of that church is a busy place, but there is just not room in some folks lives to mature in that church. They can get choked out and burnt out at church just like in life.
Some others came up in good soil. The worship in that place was fulfilling and maybe even exciting. They were encouraged, yes even helped, to start spending time with God each day. Maybe they were provided with or guided to interesting devotional and study material to help them develop a relationship with Jesus. Maybe a short class to teach them how to do Bible study. You can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or you can teach him to fish and feed him for life. The latest Christian books are talked about at that church. Information about which non-fiction books that might help them mature is regularly provided by the leadership of that church. Exciting Christian fiction they might like is in the news there, so that more of their lives revolve around wholesome things. All without having more rules added to their lives. The soil in that church nourishes their prayer lives and helps by showing them how to pray and gives them guidance on things to pray about each day. That church is a church which values maturing its members to be like Jesus. Only mature plants really produce fruit; and the fruit of the Spirit is evident in the people who are part of that fellowship. Only mature Christians have real joy in their lives and in their relationship with God. The soil of this church provides a fertile environment which produces an abundant harvest in the lives of those planted here.
So, what kind of soil is the church where you are? Paul says the ones we submit to are responsible for the condition of our souls. If you are a leader in your church, are you helping to enrich the soil so that those there will mature and become more like Jesus? It is so easy to focus on one thing. A good soil church focuses on many areas. Bringing people into the Kingdom of God is a focus of that church. Focusing on maturing believers makes it a healthy church. It is easy to not put enough effort to mature those who are already part of the Kingdom of God. Of course the end responsibility and blessings or troubles fall on the individual believer. I donít blame leadership for all of the problems in churches, but some people will never mature without some serious help. I have looked around at the trouble and discord in many churches, which I have seen during my life time, and it is apparent to me many, if not most, churches do not mature their members to become like Jesus. In fact some folks who have been in church for years, even many years, are just not very much like Jesus. I guess that is mainly because they donít have much of a relationship with him. It is said you will become like those you hang around. Holy Spirit has not been able to produce very much fruit in their lives. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is what becoming like Jesus looks like. Is this not true? So, what kind of soil is the church where you are?
I had these rambling thoughts after reading a book titled "Fresh Air" by Chris Hodges. In chapter two he was talking about this parable and how only rich soil grows things. Something there got me to thinking more in depth about the relationship of soil and the church.
Serving the King,
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